Woodpeckers cover
Gerard Gorman
Publisher:  Bloomsbury Publishing, London
Page Count:  128
ISBN Number:  9781472951182

From the Gila Woodpecker excavating nest-holes in desert cacti and the Acorn Woodpecker jamming thousands of acorns into holes in ‘granary’ trees to feed on later, through to the flycatching woodpeckers, the woodpeckers are a more diverse family than one might initially assume. This message is adeptly conveyed in Woodpeckers by Gerard Gorman, with crisp colourful images and easily digestible text.

While Woodpeckers is neither an ID guide nor a systematic reference book, it is an excellent and easily accessible starting point to learn about the woodpecker family, and a great book to dip in and out of for an interesting fact. Although there is additional focus on the four species most likely to be encountered in the UK, the book really comes alive when roaming to more far-flung locales - for example with an intriguing section on the role woodpeckers play in native American culture. The format works best where links are drawn between the fascinating variations in foraging techniques, courtship behaviours, nesting habits, and physiological adaptations of particular woodpecker species.

While a summary of those species present in Europe might have been a useful addition for birders holidaying close to home, the author does have more comprehensive books on woodpeckers available which are also excellent. The book is thoroughly recommended and should provide good motivation to head off to your local woods or parklands in search of British members of the woodpecker family, or even further afield in search of more exotic ‘peckers.  

David Jarrett